Former President Donald Trump faced another legal setback on Wednesday, as a Colorado judge denied his latest attempt to see a lawsuit seeking to remove him from the Centennial State’s 2024 ballot for his role in the January 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol Building. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of six voters in Denver district court, and the case is just days away from starting.
In the ruling, Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace denied the argument from Trump’s legal team that Congress should deal with the questions regarding his eligibility.
It was the fifth unsuccessful bid by the former president to throw out the Colorado case, which is just one of several pending lawsuits that have attempted to derail Trump’s candidacy based on the 14th Amendment. Earlier this month, Wallace had rejected Donald Trump’s request to see the case dismissed on the grounds that the former reality TV star turned president was protected under the First Amendment.
The D.C.-based Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics filed the lawsuit in September, seeking to bar Donald Trump from having his name on the ballot due to his actions ahead of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
In her 24-page ruling, Wallace rejected the claims by Trump’s legal team that the lawmakers in D.C. – not the courts – should determine his eligibility. The federal judge further rejected Trump’s argument that Colorado election officials don’t have the power to enforce the “insurrection ban,” which is the core of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.
“The Court holds that states can, and have, applied Section 3 pursuant to state statutes without federal enforcement legislation,” Wallace wrote, and while she noted that the clause “clearly gives Congress the ability to remove a constitutional disability should a person be disqualified,” and added, “it says nothing regarding what government body would adjudicate or determine such disability in the first instance.”
“The Court notes, however, it would be strange for Congress to be the only entity that is empowered to determine the disability and then also the entity that is empowered to remove it,” Wallace wrote in her decision, while she further noted the court’s ruling “holds that states can, and have, applied Section 3 pursuant to state statutes without federal enforcement legislation.”
Donald Trump’s efforts to have the dismiss the case have come up short, and at this point, the court will convene Monday to consider whether “there is any evidence or argument at trial that provides the Court with additional guidance on whether the issue of presidential eligibility has been delegated to the United States Congress,” Wallace wrote.
Understanding the 14th Amendment and Donald Trump
The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments, and it was proposed in response to issues related to former slaves following the American Civil War and is noted for addressing citizenship rights and equal protection under the law. It was bitterly contested, notably by states of the defeated Confederacy, which were forced to ratify it to regain representation in Congress.
Moreover, its Section 3 has become especially noteworthy in recent months, after a paper, titled “The Sweep and Force of Section Three” was published by the University of Pennsylvania Law Review in August, William Baude of the University of Chicago Law School and Michael Stokes Paulsen of the University of St. Thomas School of Law.
The authors made the case that this section of the 14th should disqualify Trump from the race.
The authors wrote, “Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment forbids holding office by former office holders who then participate in insurrection or rebellion. Because of a range of misperceptions and mistaken assumptions, Section Three’s full legal consequences have not been appreciated or enforced.
They added that the section “remains an enforceable part of the Constitution, not limited to the Civil War, and not effectively repealed by nineteenth century amnesty legislation,” while it “is self-executing, operating as an immediate disqualification from office, without the need for additional action by Congress.”
The former president has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in his attempts to overturn the 2020 election and has pleaded not guilty to state and federal charges, while he has further denied having any role in the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack. Trump has decried the efforts to bar him under the 14th Amendment as “nonsense” and “election interference.”
However, Colorado is not the only state trying to bar Trump from a spot on its 2024 presidential ballot, while a coalition of voters filed a similar lawsuit in Minnesota in September.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
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